Chiu Chow cuisine, also known as Swatow food, originated from the
city of Swatow in the coastal region of Guangdong. Seafood, goose, and
duck are eminent features of this cuisine. The Chiu Chow people have a
unique method of harvesting oysters by pushing bamboo sticks into oyster
beds. They then wait for the sticks to encrust with mollusks. After that,
the oysters are made edible and tasty just by grilling the oysters in their
shells over a fire. In restaurants, however, oysters are fried in egg batter
and clams served in a spicy sauce of black beans and chilies. Gray mullet
is a popular cold dish, and pomfret fish smoked over tea leaves, along
with fresh-water eel stewed in brown sauce are other highly recommended
Sauces are often sweet, using tangerine or sweet beans for flavor. Chiu
Chow chefs are particularly skilled in carving raw vegetables into floral
designs, thus bringing forth Hong Kong's most artistic dishes. Two of the
most expensive Chinese delicacies - shark's fin and bird's nest - are the
pride of Chiu Chow cuisine. The dried saliva, which lines the edible swiftlet's
nest, provides the magic base for the famous birds nest soup. This nourishing
saliva is said to rejuvenate the old and can be eaten together with coconut
milk or almonds. The finest birds nest is claimed by a Hong Kong restaurateur
who rents a mountain in Thailand, which he believes harbors the finest
set of swiftlet nests in Southeast Asia.
Other equally tasty Chiu Chow specialties are the baked rice birds,
which are seasonal fowl dishes stuffed with chicken liver and served by
the dozens, as well as minced pigeon cooked with water chestnuts and eaten
wrapped in crispy lettuce leaves spiked with a smack of plum sauce. A Chiu
Chow meal ends with desserts made from taro, water chestnuts, and sugar-syrup,
which are then washed down with cups of strong 'kungfu' tea. A simply extraordinary
Hakka settlers mainly dwell in Hong Kong's New Territories. When
they migrated from the northern regions of China to Hong Kong, they brought
along their own traditional cooking. Their main dishes are stuffed duck
and salt-baked chicken. Preparation of the stuffed duck requires some amount
of time. The bird has to be deboned through a hole in the neck and then
stuffed with a rich assortment of glutinous rice, chopped meats, and lotus
seeds. Hakka cooking also makes do with unusual food sources, such as braised
chicken's blood or pig's brain stewed in Chinese wine. These may seem repulsive
to most foreigners, but to the Chinese, they make tasty delicacies that
are good for one's health.
Originating from the imperial courts of northern China, Peking food
is extremely rich and strongly spiced with coriander, peppers, and garlic.
Noodles, dumplings, and breads are the features of this region's cuisine.
The most popular world-wide dish is the Peking Duck. The duck's crispy
skin is wrapped in thin pancakes with spring onions, cucumber, and plum
sauce, and is well liked by both Chinese and foreigners alike. In some
restaurants, diners will be regaled by the waiter who demonstrates how
the skin is cut to perfectly lean slices and enveloped in smooth, white-colored
pancakes, along with other ingredients. The leftover duck meat is then
brought into the kitchen to be stir-fried or cooked to the diners' liking.
Another popular dish is the Beggar's chicken, which is stuffed with
vegetables and herbs and sealed with clay before being cooked slowly. The
guest of honor is usually invited to break open the chicken with a mallet.
If one is lucky enough, chefs at Peking restaurants display a 'noodle
show' where they exhibit their expertise in tossing lumps of dough into
the air until it turns into strands of noodles to be cooked.
Shanghai cuisine is typically heavier and oilier than other Chinese
food. The foods are seasoned with sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine,
thus producing a sweet and zesty combination. Dishes are served in big
portions and in thick sauces. Steamed dumplings and hairy crabs are features
of this cuisine.
Hairy crabs are mostly eaten in late autumn when these freshwater crabs
are sent from mainland China. This is a rather sought after steamed dish
in Hong Kong. The best months to try hairy crabs are in September and October.
Other year-round Shanghainese favorites include hot-and sour-soup, drunken
chicken, yellow fish, and braised eel.
Bursting with flavor, Szechuan food is one of the spiciest cuisine
in China. Some restaurants in Hong Kong often combine Peking and Szechuan
dishes together so that people can taste the differences between the two.
Szechuan chefs often add rich spices into their dishes. The spices include
star anise, fennel seed, chili, coriander, and garlic. Common methods of
cooking are smoking and shimmering that will give the fragrant seasonings
time to infuse the food with mouth-watering tastes and aromas. It is not
necessary for all the dishes of this cuisine to be hot and spicy. The crispy
beef deep-fried with tangy kumquat peel, and smoked duck in camphor wood
and tea leaves are favorites on the table. Unlike the northern preference
for rice, Szechuan cuisine features a variety of noodles and steamed bread